Why am I so angered by homoeopathy?

I get angry, really angry when people try to press their opinion that homoeopathy is a form of medicine on me. And I get angry if someone tries to insist my preference for evidence based medicine is “just an opinion” and is just as valid as their opinion that homoeopathy is true.

I’m going to take a step back from the homoeopathy argument and concentrate on why I get angry when I hear it defended. Quite simply, homoeopathy and other forms of “evidence light” thinking scare me. My reason for finding these ideas so frightening is that I fear another dark age. There are signs of a desire for such an age everywhere; not just the theatrical barbarism of ISIS, but the science denying Christians, particularly in the USA.

According to a Wikipedia article on Age of Enlightenment, the Enlightenment began 300 years ago. Humanity began to shake off the horror of theocracy, to replace it with democracy and to prefer humanist values (which the church has sometimes tried to take credit for!). We began to do away with superstition, to embrace the scientific method and to look for evidence to support beliefs, or to discard those beliefs. This work isn’t complete and won’t be until religion has been cured. And the work is becoming a fight as the forces of darkness push back and claim the hearts and minds of many.

Any belief that has been shown to be incorrect, and this includes homoeopathy, but which people continue to cling to belongs with the dark side. As Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”. Homoeopathy isn’t a harmless eccentricity, it’s an example of deluded thinking, a failure of reasoning and a symptom of an enthusiasm to descend back into darkness and ignorance. It’s as ghastly as religion and belongs in our past, our history, not the 21st Century.

If any homoeopathy enthusiast has read this far, please don’t try and persuade me with your anecdotal evidence or by raising your voice. I’m not impressed by your anecdotes and shouting doesn’t make you sound any less foolish. Show me the proper randomised trial (not the amateurish rubbish from Bristol). Don’t waste too much time looking for that trial — it doesn’t exist. And remember, in the immortal works of Carl Sagan, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary  evidence”. Make no mistake, the claim that homoeopathy is a form of medicine is extraordinary, and the evidence is pitiful.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment Wikipedia article on Age of Enlightenment, viewed 25/12/15.

http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2008/01/extraordinary-c.html an informative article about the statement “extraordinary claims require extraordinary  evidence” which apparently didn’t originate with Carl Sagan.

3 thoughts on “Why am I so angered by homoeopathy?

  1. Ok I won’t bore you with anecdotes although I have plenty. Once you’ve accepted the fact that that there have in fact been plenty of randomised trials I think the problem with homeopathy is more to do with how it works. Unfortunately the end of NHS funding means further research is going to be difficult.
    “The facts, it seems, are being ignored. By the end of 2009, 142 randomised control trials (the gold standard in medical research) comparing homeopathy with placebo or conventional treatment had been published in peer-reviewed journals – 74 were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive for homeopathy and 11 were negative. Five major systematic reviews have also been carried out to analyse the balance of evidence from RCTs of homeopathy – four were positive (Kleijnen, J, et al; Linde, K, et al; Linde, K, et al; Cucherat, M, et al) and one was negative (Shang, A et al). It’s usual to get mixed results when you look at a wide range of research results on one subject, and if these results were from trials measuring the efficacy of “normal” conventional drugs, ratios of 63:11 and 4:1 in favour of a treatment working would be considered pretty persuasive.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/jul/15/homeopathy-works-scientific-evidence

    1. The Good Thinking Society responded to my tweets:

      @DragonLaserArt Yes, probably, but it’s an unremarkable claim, ie RCTs where blinding is bad/non-existent would be ignored, rightly.

      @DragonLaserArt homeopaths love this argument as it’s superficially convincing. Some RCTs are better conducted than others. Ignore bad ones.

      The trial I most recently read was hilariously badly conducted and also unethical. It used children (unethical) and treated sore throat with antibiotics (sort throat usually a virus against which antibiotics are useless). Most glaring error was that they had no control group.

      The Good Thinking Society are confident the randomised trials that seem to support homoeopathy are badly conducted and best ignored. They don’t say how the laymen is supposed to tell. I remain confident that homoeopathy is bollocks, but I’m not so blinded that I want to dismiss contrary evidence without a fair hearing.

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